Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Do not go gentle into that socialist dream

I have been waiting to hear who obama will appoint as director of NASA, and vacillating between feelings of dread and feelings of horror. I am slowly coming to the realization that who ever is appointed, they will be given explicit direction by obama, “Prove global warming exists.” Forget about space flight, after all what does NASA? I don’t know but it defiantly doesn’t have anything to do with space anymore. What NASA does mean to the incoming administration is this, give the people a global threat to keep them occupied (recycle or die) while we take over the banks, industry, redistribute wealth, and seize religious properties. It’s simple, make it big enough and scary enough and people will do anything, follow anyone, pass any law, to feel safe. I bet obama is hoping scientist find an asteroid is heading our way, he ought to be able to turn that into a law that see him being installed General Secretary of the Democratic Party of the United Socialist States (no elections allowed).

Well this thinking made me sick and upset so I looked up the history of the Soviet Union and was amazed at what I found. Take a read, and let me know what you think. I’ve highlighted a few passages for you.

The Bolshevik revolution was part of the Russian Revolution that began with an armed insurrection in Petrograd as a coup d'état by the worker and soldier masses. It was the second phase of the overall Russian Revolution of 1917. The Bolshevik Revolution overthrew the Russian Provisional Government and gave the power to the Soviets dominated by Bolsheviks. It was followed by the Russian Civil War (1917–1922) and the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922.

The revolution was led by the Bolsheviks. Bolshevik armed forces began the takeover of government buildings on 24 October when the Winter Palace, the seat of the Provisional government located in Petrograd (modern day St. Petersburg), was captured.

The mounting frustration of workers and soldiers erupted in July with several days of rioting on the streets. This event was sparked by the June offensive against Germany, in which War Minister Alexander Kerensky sent troops in a major attack on the Germans, only to be repelled. The rioting was also sparked by the workers' anger at their economic plight. A group of 20,000 armed sailors from "Red Kronstadt", the naval base on the island of Kronstadt located near St.Petersburg, marched into Petrograd and demanded that the Soviet take power. The high density of Industrial workers in the cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow, also provoked the revolution adding to the scale of the event. The capital was defenseless for two days. After suppressing the riots, the government blamed the Bolsheviks for encouraging the rebellion and many Bolshevik leaders, including Lenin and Grigory Zinoviev, were forced to go into hiding. Although the Bolshevik party had to operate semi-legally throughout July and August, its position on the far left end of the political spectrum was consolidated. Radical anti-war social democrats, who had joined the Mezhraiontsy earlier in the year, merged with the Bolsheviks in August. Many of them, particularly Trotsky, inspired the mass of workers and soldiers.

The Kornilov Affair was another catalyst to Revolution. Alexander Kerensky, who held positions in both the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet, felt he needed a trustworthy military leader. After appointing Lavr Kornilov, Kerensky soon accused Kornilov of trying to set up his own military dictatorship. It is still uncertain as to whether or not Kornilov did engineer a plot of this kind or not. Kornilov, convinced Kerensky was acting under duress of the Bolsheviks, responded by issuing a call to all Russians to "save their dying land!" Unsure of the support of his army generals, Kerensky was forced to ask for help from other quarters- including the Bolshevik Red Guards, even providing them with arms. Kornilov's supposed attempt to seize power collapsed without bloodshed as his Cossacks deserted him. Kornilov and around 7,000 of his supporters were arrested.

The social and economic changes in Russia also produced a new educated middle class of professionals and industrial managers such as doctors, lawyers, engineers and other white collar jobs. The presence of this new class also contributed to the revolution, as citizens began to see that life could be better. World War I also had a large impact on the society of Russia. Russia had huge losses during the war that plunged its citizens into deep poverty. The citizens put their anger upon the current regime. This attitude set the stage for the rise of the Bolsheviks who promised change and presented themselves as strong leaders.

The Second Congress of Soviets consisted of 670 elected delegates; 300 were Bolshevik and nearly a hundred were Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, who also supported the overthrow of the Kerensky Government. When the fall of the Winter Palace was announced, the Congress adopted a decree transferring power to the Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies, thus ratifying the Revolution. The following day, the Congress elected a Council of People's Commissars as the basis of a new Soviet Government, pending the convocation of a Constituent Assembly, and passed the Decree on Peace and the Decree on Land. This new government was also officially called "provisional" until the Assembly was dissolved.

The Decree on Land ratified the actions of the peasants who throughout Russia seized private land and redistributed it among themselves. The Bolsheviks viewed themselves as representing an alliance of workers and peasants and memorialized that understanding with the Hammer and Sickle on the flag and coat of arms of the Soviet Union.

Other decrees: The Russian banks were all nationalized. Control of the factories was given to the government. Private bank accounts were confiscated. Religious properties (including bank accounts) were seized. Wages were fixed at higher rates than during the war and a shorter, eight-hour working day was introduced. All foreign debts were repudiated.

The success of the October Revolution transformed the Russian state from parliamentarian to socialist in character.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Assembly Line Space Program

A question occurred to me while I was reading an article
about whether to go to Titan or Europa? Why don’t we go to both?

I understand that the answer is simple, money, it cost billions of dollars to send a probe to one of the outer planets, or their moons. But let us think for a moment, of how to bring down costs and do more. Ford did it with the assembly line to produce automobiles, in which created the driving revolution. This approach should be used and ultimately must be used if we as a nation and as a world are to conquer space.

Imagine you want to send a probe to our moon, mars, mars’ moon, Venus, Mercury, a few asteroids, some moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and let’s even send some to the outer planets. Now say that of all those probes you want to send out, they each have ten experiments’ that are basically the same. NASA would only have to do research and development on ten experiments’ that could be used on fifteen or more missions. Now produce that experiment package on an assemble line, and don’t just produce the ones needed immediately, make a few more. If you start producing more; productions costs come down, expertise in manufacturing increases, and people become experts.

Next look at the environment the probe will be operating in and develop a system to operate in that environment. Once it is developed keep using it, and refining it, don’t jump from one exploration vehicle to another just because it looks sexy and new, go with what works and improve it.

There is a universe to explore, we need to get on it and explore. Building a probe for a very narrow and targeted exploration takes a lot of money and a lot of time, and by the time the probe gets there, the scientist are saying “I wish we would have put this experiment on board.” Just create a basic experiment package that can be fit in one of a few different types of delivery/exploration vehicles and send them out. Whiles those probes are out there doing their thing, design the next experiment package (which can utilize the same assembly line as the first experiment package) and send it out there.

More worlds explored, more data gathered, more knowledge, and more expertise.

Since we are destined to be stuck in LEO for the next four years, we may as well start up an assembly line and become expert producers of probes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A sad day, for it is midnight in America

Today I would like to talk about two topics, Science Fiction and the Military. Together we often see how the military is portrayed in the future, and at times it seems impossible to imagine a future without a military. But instead of talking about the; would’ve, should’ve, could’ve of science fiction as it relates to and is portrayed by Science Fiction, I will talk about how they came together.

Science Fiction and the military came together in the Author Robert A. Heinlein. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis on 1929, and served in the United State Navy until he was discharged due to a medical condition in 1934. In 1939 he began writing science fiction stories in order to pay the bills, and quickly became one of the most prolific writers in the field. During World War II he tried to return to active military status and was denied due to his medical condition. The rejection by the Navy to return him to active duty, never agreed with him, and wanting to due his part he did aeronautical engineering for the United States Navy at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in Pennsylvania. During World War II he didn’t produce any science fiction, but after the war he started putting out more and more copy, stepping out of the short story market and breaking into novels.

Robert A. Heinlein gave us classics in the genre; Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers, etc. In many of his books the military is nothing more than a side note, but in Starship Troopers the military takes center stage and it is in this book the combination of a master writer with his military background gives a plausible example of the military in the future. The book moreover gives a framework of what people should do in order to make the country strong and resilient; it also gives an example of what the country should do for the people.

It is a very sad day in American history when Science Fiction has lost the allure of the future, and become disconnected from the Military. They both need one another, and we need another shining example of an amalgamation of Military and Science Fiction.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Politics and Space Exploration Don't Mix

For the most part my latest screaming rambles have been about the incoming administration, a slight divergence from the topic of this blog which is what happened to science fiction and our space program.

With the latest news coming from the incoming administration it looks as if I will be set up for more screaming rambles. But now it more closely follows the topic of this blog, particularly the “what happened to the space program section”.

Let me start off with a little backstory. One of the first names bandied about as on the short list by the incoming administration to head NASA was Chalie Bolden a former astronaut that flew on four shuttle missions, and had an extensive administrative background and a solid technical background. I looked into his bio and was pleased to see what he would bring to NASA. Then came the environmental scientist Charles Kennel, whose was the director of Mission to Planet Earth, during the Clinton era. A fairly strong administrative background but his science emphasis since his academic work was in Earth science, and I could see the writing on the wall. NASA was to be the flag bearer for the war on global warming, and space flight at most would be stuck in Low Earth Orbit. Forget going to the moon or Mars during this administration, and forget about laying the ground work for going there during future administrations. With Bolden being put on a short list of directors for NASA my fear of our space program being dismantled surfaced and I began to read deeper at what was coming out of the incoming administration. Somewhere I read that obama had a plan to put the return to the moon portion of NASA under DOD, the reason being that the DOD had rockets that were proven and the technology wouldn’t need to be developed as with the current course. Hmmm where is this going.

Yesterday I read that the short short list name is retired Air Force Major General Jonathan Scott Gration. Gration did a year as a White House Fellow working for NASA's deputy administrator at the time, Hans Mark. He has a BS in Mechanical Engineering, and a Master of Arts in national security studies. But he was one of the first high ranking officers to openly support obama and he was military advisor to obama during the campaign. This to me smelled like a pay off to a friend, but at a deeper level it looked as if a set up for a hit man, and the target was NASA.

So now during my screaming rambles about “what happened to the space program”, I can look back to this moment, and know why we haven’t returned to the moon, why we haven’t gone from mars, and why China is looking down on the Earth from their permanent base at the sea of tranquility.